I read an article written by Chief Ernest Irek, with the title above a few days ago. I know this Chief Irek; he is someone I admire a lot, an astute politician, though he no longer seems politically stable, having taken to Fanikayodeism. Irek was a former member of the House of Representatives and hails from Obubra in Cross River State Central.
In titling the said piece, the writer opted for the “Merriam Dictionary,” according to him, but I verily believe this to be the Merriam Webster online dictionary. Irek said he took the definition of the word villain from there. According to him, the term villain, per Merriam Webster, means “one blamed for a particular evil or difficulties.” I have taken time to also check this word in the Urban online dictionary. That dictionary defines a villain as an ‘awesome person.” It did not stop there. It went on to explain that a villain is a person who is “really nice but can be a jerk sometimes.”
This rejoinder to Chief Irek’s article on the subject under reference would, therefore, be wrapped around the word JERK. Jerk is a ludicrous word, in every sense of it, but certainly not a swanky one.
Needless to say, I cannot stop wondering about the author’s choice of the word villain for a comparison between Ayade and Imoke. What comes to my mind as I think about it, though, is that the author either had a mindset from the onset of his article; understandingly so for political reasons, or he simply misapplied the wrong word to the wrong person.
To be clear, let us look at who a villain or a jerk is. Again, this takes us back to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary. Here, a jerk is defined as (1a): “an annoyingly stupid or foolish person (b) an unlikable person, especially one who is cruel, rude, small-minded or selfish.”
Now, who, in all honesty, based on factual evidence, comes across as a real jerk, or a villain, with apologies to Chief Irek, between Ayade and Imoke? Examine the trajectory of the discourse objectively. Setting aside emotions and political sentiments, and going strictly by Irek’s choice of the word, who, truly, is the jester, oh, sorry, a jerk here between both men? Who between them is more annoying and unlikeable? Who between them is cruel? Who between both is more selfish? Who between both wallows in, and savours public praise singing the most? Who between them so easily recourses to emotional blackmail by shedding crocodile tears?
Is a man who cannot pay some civil servants, poor pensioners and newly retired civil servants, old men and women, who served the state meritoriously at their prime, for upward of 36 months, not cruel? Should a man who uses access to the power of his office to corner all choice property in the state and elsewhere not selfish?
But Ayade can, in some ways, neither be considered annoying nor stupid nor foolish. If he was, he would not have succeeded in beguiling Imoke to hand him the governorship ticket against the grounded expert advice in 2015. What is more, an annoying foolish person does not use high sounding words to address even market women. It takes a jester to play the jerk with emotions and shed crocodile tears so often; and yet is full of obdurate mulishness of a strobe type.
How do we compare an urbane, well groomed, cosmopolitan, calm, consistent and hardworking gentleman to a rough-hewn folk who chanced upon sudden wealth and power? How? How? Just how? Who the hell is the jerk or a villain here between both men, Irek? You tell us. How could anyone compare a professor of science that has turned his stomach into a vault for storing state resources; who openly endorses the Fulani destructive escapades and invites them to come take over his people’s farmlands, with a patriotic protector of his own people? How? How, for God’s sake?
A few more questions. Irek, who built Tinapa? You know, like we all do, that Donald Duke did, and Liyel Imoke complemented it with the International Convention Centre. Who destroyed both? Both in one fell swoop! Can anything be worse than that? Tell us, Irek.
Truth hurts, but only truth can set us free. Here is the truth, and if the truth must be told, it should not be difficult to know who the jerk is between these men, both of whom I know closely, and from a distance. I worked closely with Imoke, and for Ayade from a distance. It was through Imoke that I, and others, worked so hard to ensure Ayade became the governor of Cross River State in 2015.
Now, look again between Ayade and Imoke, and tell us from the perspectives of carriage and communication, which of the two has a personality problem. Hit the bull’s eye, Irek, and I will tell you who the hell the jerk is.
The much I know about both men, personally and within an earshot, as noted above. Imoke kept almost every promise he made at his inauguration as governor in 2007; Ayade has not kept any of the promises he made during his inauguration in 2015. Who still remembers the superhighway and Deep Seaport? Imagine that he even brought President Muhamadu Buhari down from Abuja for the groundbreaking of the superhighway project! What happened soon after that? He dumped it like hot coal.
Imoke worked so hard to preserve the state’s biodiversity pursuant to environmental protection. Who recklessly devastated it? Ayade! In fact, Ayade officially endorsed logging and the plundering of the stats’s forest capital under the guise of the superhighway so brutally.
Imoke made the security of lives and property in the state number one priority. He declared full war against cultism, but Ayade lowered the state’s security vanguard as soon as he took over, and more or less endorsed cultism, thereby exposing people in the state to daily security vulnerabilities through kidnapping and armed robbery and other heinous crimes. Do you know how many security council meetings he has held in six years? Do not bother to guess!
Almost every industry Imoke attracted to the state shut down under Ayade’s watch, whereas his own industrial misadventure went comatose on arrival. Imoke opened up the hinterlands via rural roads, most of which have become disused under Ayade. Of course, Cross River and her people were more prosperous under Imoke than under Ayade in spite of his food-on-the-table appointments.
On what basis, therefore, can we compare both men? Callyair? That is a huge joke. You do not lease aircraft for another airline operator and turn around to claim you own an airline. Go to Akwa Ibom State and find out the way they did it in Ibom Air. Do the same, functionally, and then you can claim you have set up an airline. At any rate, anyone can have it for free that the same ill-fate that has befallen the Ben Ayade industrial doltishness will soon befall callyair. Mark these words. And if in any doubt, check out the fate of his acclaimed cargo airport in Obudu upon where so many lives were sent to their early graves. Still, looking for a jerk?
So, who is more annoying between Ayade and Imoke? The last time I checked, Imoke, six years after leaving the state as governor, still has more solid political followership than Ayade, whose direct appointees run him down unabashedly from behind. Ayade even tells people that he is not liked by the people of Cross River State. And why not?
Finally, it seems that Chief Irek has already started beating the drums of war ahead of 2023. His line on this is succinct. “2023 will tell who owns Cross River State, the pretenders or the real stakeholders led by the Digital Governor.” If this statement is not provocative enough, and/or does not amount to fanning the embers of violence and bloodshed in advance, I wonder what else does? Pray, when the time comes, the security authorities would not have difficulties fishing out the trouble makers and their sponsors in the state. Of course, those that should be fingered and held responsible for any breach of peace, law, and order in Cross River State come 2023 are already showing their hands.
Rekpene Bassey, is President, African Council on Narcotics, ACON, and wrote in from Abuja.
The views expressed are the author’s.
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